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"Quite the shindig:" what to expect at Bonnie's big launch
Plus: shuffle watch — fresh speculation on the who and when, free RATs no more, rot in prison (II), Plowing Match bulldozes House sched back, Harden hit
Rumours are swirling at Queen's Park of an incoming reboot of the Ford frontbench but first — what you need to know with one heavyweight candidate set to enter the race for Liberal captain.
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie is poised to jump into the race for provincial Grit leader on Wednesday.
Crombie will headline a "special" announcement at the Metalworks Institute — a familiar location in downtown Mississauga for Crombieites who attended her election night party in November.
We called it: Grits had been buzzing about when Crombie would make her bid official — while multiple Team Crombie insiders told us they expected the lift off to come soon. "Her launch should be massive," one Liberal source said, as first reported in this newsletter last week.
"It's going to be quite the shindig" is how one insider teased the launch.
"You do not want to miss it," another operative said. While her team has kept quiet on the details of the huddle, we're told early attendance figures are "looking good," though capacity at the recording studio will be limited.
Crombie's introducer: Expect to see a high profile name introduce Mississauga's mayor — who'll deliver prepared remarks to supporters. "You will have to come and see the surprise to find out," said one Crombie operative. One name floated by some is Paramount Fine Foods owner Mohamad Fakih — a close friend to Crombie who'd initially shown interest in a possible leadership bid. Fakih chaired Crombie's mayoral campaign in October.
Support for Crombie's candidacy, which she began exploring in May, has grown "exponentially," according to a source, including among those who've previously pledged support to other leadership rivals.
Crombie has already racked up a large number of supporters, including former Grit candidates and cabinet ministers, forming an exploratory committee that will transition into a formal campaign team. Read up on the who's who on Bonnie's crew.
It's all about the paperwork: Crombie's team is expected to file her nomination papers with Elections Ontario shortly — legally launching her bid.
Shuffle watch: the who and the when
Queen's Park is abuzz that Premier Doug Ford is gearing up to rejig his front bench — a year into the Progressive Conservatives' second term in office.
"We don't know much yet. It's super guarded," warned one Tory insider. The intricacies of a cabinet reboot — the who and when — are often finalized at last minute and kept under tight wrap by Ford and his inner circle.
What we're hearing: It could all come down as early as this week — the latest rumour we're hearing from inside buzzing Tory circles on when Ford could shake up his frontbench.
Who's down: Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney is widely expected to move out of her portfolio — a demotion for Premier Ford's past leadership foe. Mulroney had come under fire over the Tories' delivery of the Eglinton LRT while Ford maintained that he had "total confidence" in her.
"We need someone with vision," a Tory source said, explaining that Mulroney's tenure in Transportation is internally viewed as ineffective.
Northern Development Minister Greg Rickford is also on the radar for a switcheroo. "It's a big priority for this government and I don't know that we're seeing results or energy behind it anymore," the source said of Rickford's tenure.
Solicitor General Michael Kerzner has been bandied about as a possible mover in the new cabinet lineup, that source added.
Sylvia's next steps: Another name emerging as a potential job mover is Health Minister Sylvia Jones. Jones had been tasked with implementing the PCs' healthcare reform plan — which critics argue will pave the way for further privatization. "I don't feel like she's been a strong face on the file, not like [Christine] Elliott was," a source said.
Two Tory insiders suggested Education Minister Stephen Lecce will likely stay put with contract talks with education unions expected to ramp up over the summer. "Lecce hundred percent stays," texted one.
Who's up: Multiple names emerged from a canvass of Tory insiders as contenders who might be in for a promotion. Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria and Stan Cho — both viewed as skilled communicators and rising stars inside the Ford government — and Charmaine Williams are on the radar for a possible new gig. "She's really ambitious," one source said of Williams. Backbenchers Todd McCarthy and Graham McGregor have also been floated. McGregor, according to one source familiar, has been posturing for a cabinet portfolio amid talk of a looming remake.
A cabinet shuffle will indicate the overall direction and priorities of year two of the PCs' second term — influenced by Ford's new chief Patrick Sackville. An imminent reboot would give cabinet ministers the summer to digest their briefing binders ahead of the Legislature's return in the fall.
For now, it's all speculation.
The official word from Ford's office: "There is no cabinet shuffle planned," according to Ford spokesperson Caitlin Clark.
"Rot in prison (II):" Federal Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre says serial killer Paul Bernardo "should rot in a maximum security prison for the rest of his life" — in line with Premier Doug Ford's comment on Bernardo last week. The federal Tories will table legislation in the House of Commons requiring "all court ordered dangerous offenders and mass murderers be permanently assigned a maximum security classification." Background here.
The Ford government is kiboshing free distribution of rapid antigen tests though RATs will still be doled out in "high priority" areas through community organizations. The Canadian Press with the scoop.
NDPer Joel Harden says he was punched in the face while counter protesting at a rally against "gender ideology" in Ottawa. "I broke up several altercations or near altercations that got started by anti trans protesters," he said, adding that he was punched after separating two protesters. "I was holding a megaphone against my face. The blow glanced off the megaphone and my face was cut." More from Harden. His tweet.
AT THE PALACE
— The summer break is on and the House is adjourned — MPPs will return to the Pink Palace in late September.
The government tabled a motion to reconvene on September 25 — two weeks later than expected. This will allow MPPs to attend the International Plowing Match in Dufferin County "without having to separately adjourn the House," according to the PCs. "It does eliminate time for Question Period," said NDP house leader John Vanthof. "But it is incredibly important to spend time in all our communities and we recognize that," he added.
— There are no committee meetings scheduled for the week.
PCs Michael Kerzner and Paul Calandra will headline a breakfast fundraiser in support of the York Centre riding association on Wednesday morning in Toronto. Here are the deets — it's pricy.
ON THE MOVE
Debbie Chapman will carry the NDP banner in the upcoming Kitchener Centre vote. Chapman — a local city councillor — is vying to replace outgoing NDPer Laura Mae Lindo.
Kelly Steiss is the Liberal candidate and fellow councillor Aislinn Clancy will carry the Green Party's mantle in the riding. The Tories have yet to name their candidate.
Jane Kovarikova is taking over as Children, Community and Social Services Minister Michael Parsa's new Chief of Staff. Kovarikova — who was deputy chief — is replacing Krystle Caputo.
WHAT WE'RE READING
THE STAR: "Doug Ford touts PC record as MPPs head off for summer break" by Robert Benzie
CBC NEWS: "David Johnston resigning as special rapporteur on foreign interference" by Darren Major
GLOBAL NEWS: "Ontario Liberal leadership hopeful sets out key housing policies" by Colin D'Mello
REUTERS: "Canada’s worst spring wildfire season could set housing construction further back" by Rod Nickel
TVO: "How Hamilton’s LRT might avoid the fate of other transit projects" by John Michael McGrath
Thank you for reading POLICORNER. We'll be on the ground at Crombie's launch party — mingling with chatty Liberals and scrumming with Bonnie. Say hello or drop me a line to find me — or with your cabinet shakeup gossip. Was this newsletter forwarded to your inbox? Join a community of the most wired Queen's Park insiders and sign up now.